For their research on the mapping of the Middle East and the uniqueness of the Torah, respectively, the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded grants of $50,400 each to Zayde Antrim, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of History and International Studies, and Seth Sanders, associate professor of religion. Each will use their fellowship to continue research and complete their most recent books.
Antrim’s project, Mapping the Middle East, emerged from her previous scholarship on ideas of place in the early Islamic world as well as two courses she developed at Trinity: “Mapping the World” and “Mapping the Middle East.” Her book uses a set of representative and compelling maps to trace a history of the ways in which people have visualized and asserted power over the Middle East during the last millennium.
“My research for Mapping the Middle East has taken me to libraries and archives in Turkey, Lebanon, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the United States,” said Antrim. “I will be using my fellowship year to visit other archives in the Middle East and Europe and to finish writing the book. I am thrilled to have the additional time and resources to devote to this ambitious project.”
Sanders will finish researching and writing his third book, Why We Can’t Read the Torah, theorizing the literary values of the Torah in order to understand its place as one of Western history’s most fruitful (and unique) pieces of literature. With each major event in the Torah happening in multiple ways, it is unlike any other major piece of ancient literature.
“Religious people have struggled with the Bible’s contradictions since people first read it, and scholars have used them as a window into how it was created. What my project can explain is why those contradictions were put in the text in the first place,” Sanders said.
Sanders, who has experience working with sources in Hebrew, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Ugaritic, will draw on Near Eastern evidence to understand the uniqueness of the Torah’s form and how it fits into literary history. He intends to conduct his research at the University of Chicago, which has the most extensive Near Eastern Studies library in the United States.